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Claire St-Onge
Montreal, XYZ, 1991. 160pp, paper, $7.95
ISBN 2-89261-040-0. CIP

Grades 7 and up/Ages 12 and up

Reviewed by Doris Lemoine

Volume 20 Number 3
1992 May

What do love, mischievousness and spelling have in common? To find out, you must read Amours, malices et ... orthographe, which is, for a first novel, full of unexpected surprises. Claire St-Onge, in collaboration with Andre Vanasse, has concocted an original way of teaching spelling to adoles­cents, who may not be overly fascinated by the subject.

The story-line is rather simple. Marlene, whose spelling is abominable, wishes to correspond with Julian, a Londoner, who hopes to improve his French. If she is to impress him, Marlene is fully aware that she must seek help. Fully confident that she can count on her friend Louise's help, Marlene decides to write to her.

The novel revolves around the corre­spondence between the two adolescents and Julian. Louise may be an ace in French but she can also be cunning. Adult readers may be shocked by Marlene's letters but will be impressed by Louise's devious plan, which eventually works wonders on Marlene's spelling. What could have been an unevent­ful story turns out be humorous and full of twists and turns.

It may be argued whether poor spelling should appear in print in a novel, thus reinforcing the habit. I tend to think that adolescent readers who are experiencing difficulty with past participles, verb tenses and plural forms will enjoy deciphering Marlene's letters and may also benefit from Louise's unusual teaching methods.

Teachers will be happy to note that the author has had the clairvoyance to include different activities for the reader to pursue independently.

Doris Lemoine, Direction des ressources educatives francaises, Bureau de I'education francaise, Winnipeg, Man.

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